Welcome back to Axios China. I hope you're having a great week. Today we've got trade war lobbying, a new Cold War, polling in Taiwan, and lots more.
⚡️Situational awareness: The FBI sounds an alarm over Chinese attempts to steal coronavirus research. Go deeper.
Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Alex Wong/Getty Images and Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
A growing number of experts are warning against what they call a "new Cold War" with China. But many Chinese Communist Party elites already view the rest of the world as a staging ground for competition between China and the United States.
The big picture: The current U.S. debate over China policy is essentially a response to the great power rivalry that China's leaders have already fully embraced.
What they're saying: Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, last week wrote that a new Cold War would mean "confronting China" would become "the organizing principle of U.S. foreign policy."
Driving the news: The coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated the downward spiral in U.S.-China relations. “Both governments are trying to profit domestically off the other's failures," Rachel Esplin Odell of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft told USA Today.
First things first — no one actually wants another Cold War.
Background: The Chinese Communist Party has two different messages — one intended for the rest of the world and one intended for party members who govern the country.
That helps explain why U.S. experts who blame the U.S. for firing the opening salvos of a new Cold War have largely misread the Chinese Communist Party's intentions.
What Xi Jinping really wants: In one key speech given to party members in 2017, for example, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for China to become “a global leader in terms of composite national strength and international influence" by the year 2035, and he said that China is “moving closer to the center of the world stage."
The bottom line: Some U.S. experts deny China's global ambitions, while others exaggerate its threat.
Mike Pence and Bob Dole at the Republican National Convention, July 18, 2016. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
Former Republican Sen. Bob Dole has registered to lobby on behalf of Wanhua Chemical (America) Co., Ltd., a Texas-based firm whose Chinese parent company is caught up in the U.S.-China trade war.
Why it matters: Lobbying by former U.S. elected officials on behalf of the Chinese government or companies it controls has raised concerns that Beijing may be able to influence the U.S. domestic political process — especially given vague disclosure rules.
What's happening: Dole works for law firm Alston & Bird and is receiving $150,000 for outreach to the U.S. House and Senate on behalf of Wanhua Chemical on "issues related to U.S. trade investment policy," according to first-quarter filings from the Senate lobbying disclosure database.
Alston & Bird only registered its contract with Wanhua in the Senate database, not the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) database under the Department of Justice, which has more stringent disclosure requirements.
What they're saying: Alston & Bird does not disclose the minority stake a Chinese government-owned entity holds in Wanhua Chemical Group. But it does state that the work of its lobbyists, including Dole, could potentially benefit the Chinese company directly.
FARA is notoriously vague, however, and another consulting company came to a different conclusion about the need to register as a foreign agent for its work with Wanhua.
The bottom line: The current interpretation of FARA appears to have loopholes that allow companies with clear ties to the Chinese government to avoid registration — and those who lobby for them to disclose very little about those activities.
In its first-ever research survey conducted in Taiwan, Pew Research Center has found the vast majority of Taiwanese hold a favorable view of the U.S., while most Taiwanese have an unfavorable view of mainland China.
Why it matters: Beijing has long hoped Taiwan will eventually choose to be unified with the mainland. Taiwanese attitudes toward China suggest this is doubtful.
Details: Views toward China tracked closely with political leanings.
Most Taiwanese, regardless of political affiliation, viewed the U.S. positively and supported closer political and economic ties with America.
The bottom line: In Taiwan, a close relationship with the U.S. has bipartisan appeal, but perceptions of China are very polarized.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
The bipartisan consensus on China may have fallen apart in Washington, but it's still going strong on American campuses.
What's happening: Dozens of leading members of both the College Republican National Committee and the College Democrats of America, representing universities in more than 45 states, have released a joint letter today that calls for the permanent closure of Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes on all U.S. campuses, protections for students and campus groups that are vulnerable to Chinese government coercion, and condemnation of anti-Asian racism.
What they're saying: "The Chinese Communist Party’s actions pose an immense threat to academic freedom and to human dignity. It is imperative that we distinguish this totalitarian regime from the Chinese people, whom we must steadfastly defend from abhorrent acts of xenophobia, racism, and hatred."
Why it matters: Young people are showing Congress it's possible to denounce both China's authoritarianism and anti-Chinese racism in America at the same time.
Beef Down Under: Bristling at calls for coronavirus inquiry, China cuts Australian beef imports (Washington Post)
Trade woes: Trump "not interested" in reopening U.S.-China trade deal (Reuters)
Viral alarm: When fury overcomes fear (Journal of Democracy)
The collision of U.S.-China rivalry with a global pandemic seems to vindicate the argument that globalization has peaked — supply chains will shrink, multilateralism will fade, and human connections across oceans and borders will fray, writes Axios' Dave Lawler.
The big picture: This narrative holds that globalization took root after World War II, accelerated after the fall of the Soviet Union, and is now under threat as nationalism rises in the West and China rises in the East.
Sachs demonstrates in "The Ages of Globalization" that since the great dispersal from Africa, humanity has been on an unceasing trajectory toward deeper linkages between more people across greater distances.
The talk of "peak globalization" is "mostly noise," Sachs tells Axios.
Sachs believes we are at a "hinge moment" geopolitically, however, as the COVID-19 crisis heralds the end of American global leadership.